Facebook offers divine tools for business

Looking for a web-based equivalent of a divining rod to find out where the customers are? While the hard work of converting prospects into paying consumers rests with the business, Facebook has stepped up to the challenge of connecting business page owners with not only their base customers but with those Friends of customers who show interest in your business.

For some time, companies using social media to attract new customers, increase awareness of a new product, or channel sales towards high margin merchandise had only vague data by which to measure marketing efforts in time to respond effectively. Facebook provides some valuable metrics for tracking a whole lot more than the number of Likes a site receives.

Tracking the buzz
Facebook introduced two features for marketers just a few months ago. The social networking site added a new dashboard to its Page Insights, a tool for web owners or administrators that, until recently, simply displayed the number of click-throughs on Like buttons. Listed as “People Talking About This" the new metric gives businesses a detailed look at the total engagement by those users who’ve actively interacted with or about your online message.

Simultaneously, Facebook users see another feature, viewed as the “Sponsored" section on their homepage showing when someone in their contacts Likes a product page, enters a comment about a business page, or shares a page with someone in their Friends list. This visible activity, the result of a new premium ad unit, is designed to allow businesses to capitalize on the data they can now access from Page Insights.

Building on the knowledge that people who know that a friend, family member or good acquaintance has a favorable view of a product, that person is more inclined to trust that decision when making their own selections.

Adding fuel to the fire
Businesses using Facebook as part of their overall marketing strategy can better direct their efforts by knowing which product page is generating a buzz, or conversely, which is not. For those pages showing real promise, companies have a real chance to throw some fuel on the fire in terms of targeted marketing tactics. Not limited to Facebook, social media platforms can be used to consolidate knowledge about peak buyer interest to get buyers in the door or on your order page. Social media contests can be used to do more than just stoke interest in a product as they can also be used to magnify demand, leading to a spike in sales activity.

Flexible business application
For an owner embracing not only social media, but the wired generations now entering the most desirable marketing demographics, these very recent developments by Facebook afford quite a bit of flexibility. Both features don’t have to be used at once, though the benefits of having People Talking About This drive your investment choices for the FB ad pack sure seems hard to ignore.

Every company depends upon a steady expansion of their base of customers. As any salesperson knows, prospects pre-qualified by the actions of referrals have the highest odds of conversion, and that might be why Facebook has been quite keen to implement these tools for the progressive enterprise.

This is a guest post by Lindsey Mac, who writes about business and lives in the Indianapolis area. She is an advocate of those pursuing an online mba degree. You can follow her on Twitter @HarperMac11.

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